Section 6.5. Digitizing Old Photos and Slides

6.5. Digitizing Old Photos and Slides

Scanners let you retrieve dusty photos and slides from the closet and place them inside your PC for easy sharing with another generation. (A CD full of old photos makes a great gift for parents.) However, scanners faithfully digitize everything about your photos, including their scratches, thumbprints, faded images, lost colors, and the wild lighting shifts that occurred when grandpa messed up the camera settings. Restoring a photo takes much more time than simply scanning it onto your computer. When it comes to digitally preserving your old photos and slides, you have two options.

  • Scan them yourself . Many scanners come with attachments for scanning in slides and photographs. It's a slow process, since each slide must be cleaned meticulously, scanned, and then touched up in a graphics program. Don't clean the photos, though, as they're easily damaged. Instead, remove their blemishes with the photo-editing tools found in most graphics software.

  • Scan them professionally . Some local camera stores offer photo restoration services; many companies offer the service through the Internet. Prices vary widely depending on the condition of the image. Some service providers charge a flat fee per photo; others charge an hourly rate. The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration ( offers tips on caring for old photos, as well as recommendations for finding professional restoration services in your area.

Tip: If you choose to scan and restore old photos yourself, make sure you don't do more harm than good. For instance, scan the photos directly from within the photo album you're storing them in. Removing the photos, especially if they're old and fragile, can easily cause damage. Don't peel off any tape, either. The tape's easier to remove using an image-editing program like Photoshop Elements.

Restoring damaged photos is an art, requiring detailed work using sometimes complex graphics software. If you'd like to take a stab at it, most graphics programs offer tools like a Clone Stamp that turns the mouse into a tool that blots out dust, scratches, and other blemishes, leaving the image relatively intact (see Figure 6-6). Expect to spend an hour or so correcting each photo's blemishes.

On the positive side, even if you accidentally blot out Uncle Pete's face, you can always press Ctrl+Z or choose Edit Undo to put it back. And no matter what you do on the screen, the original photo stays safe.

PCs: The Missing Manual
ISBN: 0596100930
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2005
Pages: 206
Authors: Andy Rathbone

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